INBO Research Challenges

Innovative monitoring techniques

Monitoring provides crucial information that INBO uses to underpin nature policy and nature management in Flanders and beyond. By deploying innovative techniques, we aim to improve monitoring in terms of quality, frequency, accuracy and efficiency.

INBO continues to invest in valuable, long-term research infrastructure. This includes laboratories, greenhouses, nurseries and field measurement equipment such as camera traps, monitoring wells, sensors, drones, etc. In Flanders, we are coordinating with partners on how to use our research infrastructure more efficiently. We also want to further participate in national and international research infrastructures (IRIs) such as LifeWatch, DiSSCo, eLTER, ICOS and AnaEE.

INBO uses automation and citizen science for data collection in various monitoring networks. Examples of automation include radars, phenological cameras, climate stations, and sensors for soil moisture, for example. Citizen science involves citizens conducting scientific research, which offers significant scale advantages.

INBO uses remote sensing data to monitor the state of habitats and ecosystems. Through drone imagery, we monitor open nature, forests and gulls nesting on building roofs. We use freely available orthophotos to detect, delineate and track specific types of land use. We also use time series of freely available satellite images to update the Biological Valuation Map outside Special Protection Areas and to identify agricultural crops.

INBO uses artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning to detect land use changes on satellite and drone imagery, for example. This allows us to accelerate updates of the Biological Valuation Map and derived maps such as ecosystem vulnerability maps. We also use the techniques to automatically recognise plants and animals on camera images or sound recordings.

INBO’s genetics lab analyses genetic material (fauna and flora) which facilitates monitoring by means of environmental DNA (eDNA). eDNA allows a quick and efficient determination of which species are present, based on a soil or water sample, for example.

As an open science institute, INBO chooses open source software, open data, and shared scripts (e.g. with github) as much as possible.


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